So I’ve been asked several times by a number of people “what is a sample?” in relation to music. Most people who are or were musicians can answer this in a few seconds. But because I’m a little more detailed (some would say long-winded) in things, I’ll try to explain it a bit better and give an example. And from this explanation, I will begin a new segment here at theintellution.com entitled “Sample School”.
So in simplified terms a sample is when one musical artist/producer takes a piece of another song in order to make something new or different. In other words, the artist/producer uses the original song in some way to create a new melody, lyric, rhythm, chorus, etc., and in turn a new song is created. Musical artists/producers of the present often get a lot of recognition, spins, radio play & money for doing this, and those that do it well get all that and more. Some of the noteworthy people to do this include Kanye West, Ninth Wonder, Diddy, Q-Tip, Dr. Dre, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Quincy Jones.
Now there are different types of samples, but I will save this topic for another post. Just know that some of them include looping a portion of a song, taking only instruments & musical notes from a song, layering of sounds within lyric or melody, etc. You get the idea.
This goes on within the same genres of music (like Kurtis Blow & Grandmaster Mellie Mel & The Furious Five) and from one genre to another (like The Bee Gees & Snoop Dogg). The ones I enjoy listening to the most are when the sample comes from a much older song of one genre, and it’s used to make a different sounding song altogether. So a first example of this can be found in the 2 songs below.
The 1st song was made by the one and only “Queen of Soul”…Ms. Aretha Franklin. It was released in 1965, well before singers had albums with anything close to 10 or more songs on them. The name of this song is “One Step Ahead” and it is what I like to call original soul music. I’m sure those who know it will agree with that statement.
The 2nd song was the first single of the debut hip-hop album “Black on Both Sides” by rapper Mos Def and produced by Ayatollah. The album and single was released in 1999, so you can easily see what I mean by a much older song being used. The Mos Def track is also a classic and any true hip-hop heads can tell you that in a second. You can hear the sample of Aretha’s song at the very beginning and throughout the track. It is entitled “Ms. Fat Booty”, and tells quite a compelling story if you pay close attention to the lyrics.
So I hope you enjoyed the inaugural “Sample School” and that you learned something new. Thanks for listening and thanks for checking out The INTELlectual revoLUTION.
– Supreme Soul
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